Support our Nation today - please donate here

Robert Page’s side bid to cement golden era – Wales-Poland talking points

25 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Wales’ Neco Williams celebrates scoring the second goal against Finland. Photo Nick Potts/PA Wire

Phil Blanche

Wales welcome Poland to Cardiff on Tuesday with a place at Euro 2024 at stake.

The play-off final winners will qualify for the European Championship this summer, joining Austria, France and the Netherlands in Group D.

Here are some of the main talking points surrounding the Cardiff City Stadium clash.

Golden era

Qualifying for a third successive European Championship, and a fourth major tournament out of five, would extend Wales’ golden era. While that record would be expected by many countries, it would represent a huge achievement for a nation with a population of just over three million and one that did not reach a major tournament between 1958 and 2016. It would also be achieved without their retired former captain Gareth Bale, who did so much in previous qualifying campaigns to get them over the line.

On the same Page

Wales boss Rob Page sprang a surprise in his semi-final line-up against Finland, opting to keep Kieffer Moore on the bench and choosing a three-man strikeforce of Brennan Johnson, David Brooks and Harry Wilson. It was a bold call with targetman Moore in such good form at Ipswich. But Brooks and Johnson scored in an emphatic 4-1 win and Wilson was a constant threat with the Wales attack all on the same page. Daniel James also scored and impressed coming off the bench, and Page now has another tough selection call to make.

Ramsey role reduced

Skipper Aaron Ramsey dominated much of the pre-Finland talk as the Cardiff midfielder was the subject of a club versus country row. The truth, however, was that the 33-year-old was never going to start after an injury-hit season and, in the event, Ramsey did not get on the pitch at all. Ramsey will be on the bench against Poland again and, although he remains a considerable influence in the dressing room, Page is only likely to use him in case of an emergency.

Red-hot Robert

With Bale enjoying retirement on the golf course, Poland can lay claim to having the play-off final’s one superstar – Robert Lewandowski. The Barcelona striker may be 35 now, but he is still finding the net with incredible regularity. Lewandowski has seven goals in his last nine Barcelona appearances and 23 for club and country this season. With 82 Poland goals – only Romelu Lukaku (83), Ferenc Puskas (84) and Cristiano Ronaldo (128) have scored more in men’s international football in Europe. Stopping Lewandowski will be vital for Wales.

Rewriting history

Wales must rewrite history to reach Euro 2024 because their record against Poland is abysmal. Played 10, lost seven, drawn two and only one win. That 2-0 victory came in their maiden clash in March 1973 when Leighton James and Trevor Hockey scored in a World Cup qualifier. It has been downhill for Wales ever since with Poland winning the last six, including a Nations League double header in 2022. Poland produced a late sucker punch to win 2-1 in Wroclaw and Karol Swiderski settled a tight Cardiff contest three months later.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.